CSOs For Good Governance: Enhancing Civil Society’s Contribution To Governance And Development Processes In Trinidad And Tobago (April 2017 – March 2020)

This project is being supported by the European Union.

#CSOs4GoodGov

 

Project Description

The ‘CSOs For Good Governance’ action is a three-year project, April 2017 – March 2020 (3 years), with the overall goal to empower civil society to become effective advocates and to actively engage in an inclusive and holistic approach to national development.  It consists of four inter-linked components designed for Civil Society Organisations to hold Government accountable for delivery of priority commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals. It is a €440,000 project supported by the European Commission, €340,000 from the European Commission; €100,000 co-funding.

The project is led by United Way Trinidad and Tobago (UWTT) and implemented by seven leading CSOs: UWTT, Caribbean Natural Resources Institute, Veni Apwann, The University of the West Indies – Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD), Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women and Environment Tobago.

The project is aimed at catalysing transformation to a more environmentally sustainable, socially just, inclusive, accountable and resilient model of development and governance through supporting the effective involvement of civil society organisations (CSOs) in implementation of the Trinidad and Tobago’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The work is organised into four inter-linked Components that collectively empower civil society to be effective advocates and to actively engage in an inclusive and holistic approach to national development holding Government accountable for delivery of priority commitments under the SDGs:

  • Component 1: Developing a mechanism for CSO engagement in the SDGs
  • Component 2: Early actions for holding Government accountable for implementation of the SDGs
  • Component 3: Organisational and advocacy capacity building and networking of CSOs
  • Component 4: Strengthening the legal, fiscal and funding framework for CSOs in T&T
  • Component 5: Project management, evaluation and learning, communication and visibility, and sustainability*

* This component supports execution of the project.

 

 

Key activities and results

1. Establishment and facilitation of the SDGs Catalysts Network as a mechanism for civil society engagement in the SDGs in T&T: Members of the SDGs Catalysts Network are CSOs working across the full range of development sectors in T&T (e.g. environment, education, gender, health, poverty, youth).  They work together, guided by a Terms of Reference, to ensure that the consultative process determining the national priorities within the SDGs framework is inclusive and transparent, that government is held accountable for its commitments and actions to deliver the SDGs and that the contribution of civil society is recognised. The Catalysts serve as a group of informal advisors, sources of exemplary practices and specific experience and act as a bridge between civil society and other partners. A representative selected from within the Network will act as a focal point to liaise with and input into the prescribed national mechanism established by government for implementation of the SDGs in T&T.

2. a. Establishment of an Advocacy Action Small Grant Facility. United Way Trinidad and Tobago is managing the disbursement of Small Grants Facility designed to build the capacity of several key CSOs in advocacy actions centred on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Small Grant Facility provides initial funding for short, one-six month, advocacy actions by these CSOs over the project period. An Independent Technical Advisory Panel of 3-5 individuals representing various areas of expertise oversee the Small Grant Facility.

The learnings from these projects will be documented via case studies, lessons learnt, videos, social media posts and tool kits to be shared with the wider Civil Society network via the project’s Knowledge Platform.

To date, fourteen grants have been awarded to the recipients below for a total grant amount of approximately $313,000TT:

 

Round 1
WINAD Building A Sustainable Governance Model: Collaborative Planning
UWI-IGDS Advancing Partnerships Toward Gender Responsive Budgeting in Trinidad and Tobago
Round 2
ACSOTT Governing our sector & ease of doing business: Voices & Stories from T&T’s CSOs
CAISO Human Rights & State Accountability: CSO Action Learning on Strategy, Collaboration & Impact
Transparency Institute Integrity Clubs: Planting seeds of purpose, compassion, honesty and integrity in our future leaders
Caribbean Kids and Families Therapy Organization Disabilities Awareness Campaign with CKFTO Count Me In Puppet Program
IAMovement Organic Garden School Programme (OGSP):Expansion, Awareness and Outreach
Round 3
CAISO Add All 3: Champions Campaign in Coalition for Equal Opportunity and Stronger Institutions
Transparency Institute Integrity Clubs: Planting seeds of purpose, compassion, honesty and integrity in our future leaders (continued)
Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago A Public Awareness Campaign to promote Hurricane Resilient Housing Practices and Healthy Housing Habits
IAMovement REthinking Energy Video Series Completion + Launch
Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago (CYEN) Youth Initiative for Empowering Leadership and Development (YIELD)
Round 4
Families in Action The Girls Stand Up Project
CKFTO Disabilities Awareness Campaign with CKFTO Count Me In Puppet Program (continued)

2. b. Knowledge sharing by CSOs for awareness and advocacy on the SDGs in T&T via an online SDGs Knowledge and Advocacy Platform: CANARI is developing a platform, a dedicated website, developed to facilitate knowledge and information sharing by the SDGs Catalysts Network members and wider civil society for awareness and advocacy on the SDGs in T&T. The platform will host information on project activities, innovative actions, results, lessons and recommendations including written reports, an advocacy toolkit and case studies, as well as webpages, audio-visual material, social media and other communication by participating CSOs will be made available on the platform.

Development and implementation of an advocacy campaign to amplify civil society’s voice on the SDGs: A national consultation workshop was held with members of the SDGs Catalysts Network and other civil society participants to distil a collective civil society position on the SDGs in T&T, including priorities for the national SDGs agenda. A joint advocacy campaign was also developed and implemented to widely promote and amplify civil society’s position, especially in government-led processes.

3. Provision of Organisational and advocacy capacity building and networking of CSOs: Veni Apwann and the Capacity Building Working Group have been working diligently with the SDG Catalysts Network members and their wider civil society networks to further develop their capacity. This will enable them to be more effectively networked and collaborate with each other, government and the private sector to advocate for and deliver sustainable development results under the SDGs.

Following months of focus groups and needs assessments, Veni Apwann, alongside key stakeholders are leading coaching, mentoring, and action and peer learning activities to build the capacity of the SDG Catalysts Network Members.

4. Strengthening the legal, fiscal and funding framework for CSOs in T&T: This component aims to advocate for and contribute to the implementation of a revised legal, fiscal and funding framework for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T). With a 2018 statistic of 7,479 non-profits registered in Trinidad and Tobago it is evident that CSOs in T&T need a coherent legal, fiscal and funding framework that supports them to deliver and be accountable for results that contribute to national development and good governance. The Government and private sector can also benefit from a more effective system for registration of and reporting by CSOs for accountability.

 

United Way Trinidad and Tobago is leading this component which has updated the 2016 Civil Society Organisation Position Paper, with input from over 40 CSOs, into a Civil Society Organisation Advocacy Paper. Email unitedway@uwtt.com for more information about the CSO Advocacy Paper.

 

Four priority actions are recommended for improving the legal and fiscal frameworks in order to incentivise a more sustainable and equitable funding framework:

  1. Create an electronic dual-registration process with the Companies Registry and Revenue Authority (and regulator, if independent).
  2. Introduce a new company status, Social Enterprise.
  3. Revisit the tax provisions that affect the CSOs.
  4. Establish a CSO regulator with authority for significantly greater scrutiny and compliance

Non-Profit Bill (2019)

This component is overseen by a Legal and Fiscal Working Group consisting of a tax specialist, attorney from Transparency Institute of Trinidad and Tobago, a former independent senator, a representative of the NGO Unit of the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, and an area expert on CSR in Trinidad and Tobago.

For further information, please visit: